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SNG members’ study explores link between parent childhood abuse and emotion perception in its child

A new study done by SNG researchers has shown that emotion perception in faces of children as well as sensibility during a mother-child interaction is influenced by the parent’s experiences of abuse during its childhood. According to theories of attachment, a sensible parent must be able to correctly perceive signals from its children in order to adequately see to its needs. This research, led by professor Annie Bérubé in collaboration with professors Caroline Blais and Hélène Forget of the SNG, shows that for parents that have been raised in an abusive context, efficient emotion perception does not ensure sensible behaviors with their child. Quite the opposite, in fact: among the mothers who lived through an abusive childhood, those who had the easiest time perceiving the emotions of their child were those who had the hardest time behaving sensibly during playtime with their child. It is possible that for those mothers, an efficient perception is paralyzing rather than mobilizing. These results have important repercussions on how we should intervene with this particular population. Adapted programs in which mothers must relearn how to face the various emotions could be necessary in order for them to better care for their children’s needs. This study was published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect and can be consulted through the following link:

Bérubé, A., Blais, C., Fournier, A., Turgeon, J., Forget, H., Coutu, S., & Dubeau, D. (2020). Childhood maltreatment moderates the relationship between emotion recognition and maternal sensitive behaviors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 102, 104432. ;


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